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Then Samuel told the whole house of Israel, "If you're returning to the Lord with all your heart, then remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you, direct your hearts back to the Lord, and serve him only. Then he will deliver you from the control of the Philistines." 1 Samuel 7:3, NET Bible
I have to look seriously at who – or what – I am serving. For I can be easily deceived if I am not regularly submitting myself to the Lord my God.
There are many things I can serve in this world, none of which honour Jesus: I can serve money, other people, addictions to various substances or activities – I can even serve an addiction to people if what they think of me, or if their opinion, is more important to me than His opinion or what the Lord thinks of me.
Something else that I can become a servant to is my emotions. It is so easy for me to become overwhelmed by my feelings, and when I do, I can begin to quickly bow down to them. When anger rears its ugly head in me, it is all too natural for me to lash out at my husband or the nearest loved one to me. However, the Lord says in His Word:
A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1, NIV84
When I feel discouraged and overwhelmed by a task that is before me, it is simple for me to say, "I just can't do this!" But the Word of the Lord speaks differently:
Sometimes I fail to take time to just stop and be still with the Lord, meditating on just what it means that, "I was sanctified, I was justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.1 Corinthians 6:1-11 NIV
It is truly amazing to know that Almighty, holy God set me apart for Himself, which is what it means to be sanctified. I am holy – set apart – separated from those who do not know Him; set apart from those who have not been washed clean in and by the shed blood of Jesus.
Why have I been set apart? Not because of anything that I have done or could ever do, but because of the finished work of Jesus on Calvary's cross. When Jesus gave His very life up for me, He had faith that His sacrifice of Himself would pay the price, the penalty, for my sins – past, present, and future! And because someone told me about His amazing atoning sacrifice for me and I believed in this Good News through the God-given gift of faith, I have been justified: I have had my sins washed away by the blood of Jesus! For to be justified means that it is the same as if I had never sinned. To be justified means that I am just, no longer guilty of the wrongs that I have committed; I am innocent before the throne of God! In His eyes, it is as if I had never sinned!
Praise be to God in Christ Jesus our Lord! My Abba! Father loved me so much that He allowed His only Son to suffer an excruciating death for me, for you, for all of humanity, that we might believe and be washed clean in His blood and saved from the eternal death that is the penalty of our sin! And when I accept Jesus' gift of perfect atonement for me by faith, I am granted eternal life, a life that is meant to be lived with abundant love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and, self-control. I cannot help but think of Psalm 27:1:
Hebrews 7:21-22, 24-25 NRSV
"The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind,‘You are a priest forever' " -- accordingly Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant. . . . He holds His priesthood permanently, because He continues forever. Consequently He is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Can Jesus save... that person, that situation, that problem, that illness, that sin? Can Jesus save? I think the answer ("yes") is something I believe intellectually, but not always something I believe in faith. I do have the choice of trusting (having faith) or observing (looking at what I believe are the facts) and often I choose the "facts" over faith.
I like optical illusions. But I have to admit, sometimes I don't get them. I look and look and just can't see what it is I'm supposed to see. It's the same with jokes. Often I listen to them and then... nothing. I just didn't hear the humor (while my husband is bent over laughing). Both are, in a sense, illusions for a reason. They take "fact" and twist it for a purpose (to amuse). So, I think, facts are not static. Facts are not, then, the same as truth because facts can obviously be manipulated.
There is much to be said about forgiveness and the impact it has one each life. The Bible holds hundreds of examples of people who have experienced first-hand, being forgiven of wrongful deeds: King David, Peter the disciple when he denied knowing Jesus three times, the woman caught in adultery, Paul who murdered hundreds of Christians before his conversion, Cain who killed his brother Abel because Abel's sacrifice was accepted and Cain's was not are just some to name a few who experienced the forgiveness of God in their life first-hand.
The sole purpose behind the come of Jesus Christ as a human was that He died as an atonement for our sins. He hung on the cross in our place. By all rights, WE should be the ones hanging on the cross. After all, Jesus was WITHOUT ANY SIN, but we were born into sin, yet it was Jesus who died and it is us who live.
If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. 1 John 1:8.
For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Romans 3:23.
If our marriage is in trouble the first place we should go is to the Words of Our Loving Father. We should seek Him with our heart and with our minds and with our soul. We should do NOTHING else, nor say NOTHING else without first asking our Father what it is we should do.
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my father will love him, and will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me and not keepeth my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father which sent me. John 14: 23-24
Starting today, I will go to my Creator for the spiritual guidance and counsel that my marriage really needs! What did Jesus Christ say about marriage again? Let's take a look at some very important principles for loving one another "in the LORD".
Hebrews 4:15-16 NRSV
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We know that Father God is spirit. God Himself is an entity whose like we cannot even begin to fathom. He has "appeared" in scripture as a burning bush, as a disembodied voice, as brilliant jewels. John described Him as thus:
Have you been struggling with feelings of despair, fear, and anxiety? Do you think you let God down so He cannot possibly love you anymore?
I remember when I was so paralyzed by fear that I could not get out of bed in the morning. What seemed like endless nights tormented me as I lay awake through torturous hours filled with anxiety and loneliness. Yet the shafts of early morning light were only painful reminders to me that another long, empty day was ahead of me. I had lost the ability to look at anything through a positive lens, and my incessant negativity had driven away the few friends that I had known. I longed to be near the Lord, but I did not know how to reach Him. For I had given up on the promise of God found in Hebrews 13:5 Amplified Bible:
Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!].
Healing. Just saying the word conjures up a mountain of images and thoughts for every person. And every person's thoughts on healing are going to be different. We can think of physical healing, emotional healing, spiritual healing, family healing and so on. According to The Complete Christian Dictionary for Home and School, the definition of heal is:
1. To cause to become healthy: Jesus healed every disease and sickness among the people (Matthew 4:23).
2. To cause to become productive: If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
3. spir. To cause to become spiritually healthy: Be he [Jesus] was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed…The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5,6). Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil (Acts 10:38).
4. To comfort the afflicted: He [God] heals the brokenhearted… (Psalm 147:3)
In today's world, there is so much sickness and new illnesses revealing themselves almost daily. We definitely need the healing hand of God to be upon us. But healing doesn't always come in the form of a miraculous sign like a leprous hand being healed right before our eyes. Sometimes it comes in the form of taking medication, surgery, therapy, counselling, physical therapy and so on. But in any of these cases and those I have not listed, God is always present, for without him, there would be no healing. It is because Christ suffered so greatly before dying on the cross that we are even able to be healed. It was because of his great sacrifice that we are able to go before him with our petitions for healing.
I'd like to start by introducing myself. My name is Sheri, I am currently 42 and have been a Christian since the age of 13. I am a survivor of more than 20 years of sexual abuse and rape. I have been abused by both men and women, but the one woman scarred me more than all the men together. However, I am NOT a victim, but a survivor. I am not being abused anymore. I may have the occasional flashback or other issue that arises when you have been abused, but it is just the memory of the abuse, not the actual abuse itself. I am a SURVIVOR, not a victim. I am not fully healed, but am steadily working on my recovery and healing with the help of Jesus Christ and good counselors. I know what it is to be in bondage and I know what it is to be free. It is my prayer that you learn the way to freedom through this message.
I have had this message rolling around in my head and my heart for quite some time now. Just down the road about 30 minutes, maybe less, is a Federal Maximum Security Prison that holds only 3 types of offenders: rapists, murderers and armed robbers. For the longest time now, every time I go past that prison, I have a longing and a desire to go in and tell the prisoners that are there that there is hope for them and forgiveness of their sins. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. That though they may never receive the forgiveness of those they hurt, they CAN receive God's forgiveness. There is another way to live that holds hope, peace, joy and truth. But after speaking to my pastor, who is very wise, he suggested something I have never thought of. Perhaps I am being called to minister to those in prison, but not necessarily those in a prison building. Perhaps I am to write this message so that those who are imprisoned in their past, pain, misery, sorrow or other such prisons and chains. This message is for you.
Everybody in this world who has any understanding of the world, experiences fear, likely everyday. There are the common fears such as: living in a safe city - you don’t want to be murdered, raped, robbed or beat brutally. These are understandable fears. But who controls the fears you have? Do your fears control you or are you in control of your fears? This is a huge question and one that needs to be discussed and clarified. Because there are actually 2 different types of fear for those who walk in the way of God, we need to differentiate between the two. The fear or reverence of God is a good fear, but not the one we will discuss here. Daily fear and fear that burdens us is the fear we will be discussing.
The Bible contains dozens of people who were afraid. Some of them experienced more fear than others, but just because someone does not fear as much as another, does not mean their fear is any less legitimate.
A small list of people who feared in the Bible include, but are not limited to: